I’ve sat down to write this post about five different times now, and I just haven’t been able to make myself do it. But as hard as it is to talk about, it’s time.
I’ve shared a lot about our lives with our dogs over the years. They were our babies before we had our actual baby, and they’ve always been an important part of our family. We always get told we are crazy for having three dogs (we can’t deny it – we are!) and as much chaos as they have added to our lives, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Which is why this is so hard.
About a month ago, we had some friends over – it was supposed to be just a small group of friends but it quickly morphed into more people than we ever anticipated, including lots of kids. Normally we keep our dogs in the backyard for the first few minutes after people arrive, then let them inside so they aren’t stuck in the yard all night. This night, however, there were several kids who had never been to our house and who were petrified of the dogs. There were also a lot more people than usual, and I knew it would just stress Ranger out to have him inside. The other two dogs got let in a couple of hours into the night, but Ranger is extremely socially anxious and didn’t want to come in so I kept him out there where I figured he was safer.
But then, some kids wanted to go outside to play in the yard. And I let them, because I figured Ranger would be more comfortable with a few kids in the backyard than the dozens of people in the house. But no adults were out there to watch them, and they were chasing him around the yard. Ranger is one of the most docile and sweet dogs I’ve ever known, so I knew he wouldn’t do anything to hurt them…but I didn’t consider that without any other option, when he got stressed out, he’d look for an escape. The kids came in a few minutes later and told us he had gotten out of the backyard.
We had no idea it was even possible. There was a hole in the fence that we’d patched, but apparently not well enough. Corey and I immediately ran out to try and find him and began searching the neighborhood. We called my sister to help and a few people from the party came outside to help as well.
We spent hours searching. We all spotted him at one point or another, but he wouldn’t come to any of us (not even my sister, who is quite literally his favorite person in the entire world). The only consolation we have is that he wasn’t scared at this point or acting nervous. He was clearly thrilled to be running around and free, and he was panting and wagging his tail like he was having the best day of his life. But we couldn’t catch him.
Eventually we had to give up for the night, but we continued to search the neighborhood every chance we got for the next week. We posted his picture all over the internet, we called every shelter in the area, we left food out, we left our clothing out where we last saw him, we took the other dogs to help search…we basically did every single thing we possibly could to find him.
But we never did.
On Friday it will be one month since Ranger ran away, and we still check Craigslist and the local shelter every day. I’ve been running in our neighborhood in the mornings, and I constantly keep an eye out for him. My heart is in my throat every time we leave our house as I scan the streets and neighboring fields to see if there’s any sign of him.
Hadley has taken it the hardest. She constantly looked for him for the first few days he was gone, and she still hasn’t figured out how to play and get her energy out without him here. Jackson still checks for him every time we go to get Hadley out of her kennel, and I honestly expect him to be sitting by our front door every single time I come home.
There’s no good way to end this post except to say that our hearts are broken and we miss him dearly. We have heard many stories of dogs coming home after longer than this, so we still have hope. But a piece of our family is missing, and things just aren’t the same.